The image shows a Dark Web search for “heroin.” Lots of Dark Web marketplaces offer most any drug you want and it’s probably at least as reliable as skulking around alleys at night buying from a friend of a friend. Credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, guns, explosives, child porn, passwords to hacked accounts, and much more are also easily purchased. Online gambling is coming.
Does anyone think governments will allow this going forward? Especially since payments are made in supposedly untraceable cryptocurrencies, which to governments mean the distinct possibility of tax evasion and money laundering. No, they won’t. And it won’t matter if you are using VPNs and Tor to make your purchases using Bitcoin.
Yasha Levine, author of the upcoming Surveillance Valley, says while VPNs and Tor may give some safety, they do not give any if your laptop or iPhone have tracking software on them. And, as we all know from the Wikileaks dumps, NSA has written lots of such software. (Some of the recent ransomware attacks were based on NSA software and some of this software does indeed report home.)
Silk Road was the first big Dark Web marketplace to get shut down by the feds. Founder Ross Ulbricht is doing life without parole. Alphabay, which moved into the void left by Silk Road and became much bigger, just got taken down by law enforcement from three countries. Co-founder Alexandre Cazes was arrested in Thailand and hung himself in jail a few days ago.
So, do not think any of this is completely secure. It’s not. As for cryptocurrencies, governments will increasingly move to regulate and monitor them. Penalties will be imposed for unreported transactions (just like happens now when banks do not report transactions larger than $10,000.) Hiding money in cryptocurrencies is going to get considerably more difficult.
Other users noted that it still wasn’t clear how AlphaBay had been seized, given that its use of Tor and Bitcoin were meant to shield buyers, sellers, and admins from identification. For months, an extortionist had reportedly threatened to reveal the identity of one AlphaBay administrator, and even released identifying information about him after AlphaBay’s proctors sent him or her a hush-money payment. But dark web practitioners still have vague fears that law enforcement agencies found a method of breaking AlphaBay’s Tor protection–which potentially means sites like Dream Market and Hansa are vulnerable too. “It is frankly frightening,” one user wrote in response to news of the AlphaBay takedown.